Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Essential Guide to World Comics

Tim Pilcher and Brad Brooks’s The Essential Guide to World Comics is a colorful, entertaining book into which to dip, packed with both facts and gossipy tidbits. And even though their introduction specifies this is “a guide and not a definitive encyclopedia of every title, every publisher and everyone who has ever worked on comics,” they still pretty much check off all the big names from around the globe — Osamu Tezuka of Japan (Tetsuwan-Atom), Hergé of Belgium, Hugo Pratt from Italy and bunches of other places, Jack Kirby from America, Dez Skinn the English editor and publisher, Jacques Tardi, Moebius and André Franquin (the Marsupilami, among others) of France, Jason of Norway ….

Also, decent time is spent on parts of the world whose comics many of us know little about, including India, Egypt, South Korea and the Philippines.

I do have a few minor concerns with this Essential Guide, though. Surely Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez deserve more than a one-sentence reference, given their influence.

And this simply seems odd: In the U.S. chapter, the authors write about Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko; then Art Spiegelman, R. Crumb and other underground cartoonists; then Joe Sacco; then about Dark Horse Comics, followed by Neil Gaiman; then Dave Sim and Cerebus the Aardvark; then Spiegelman again and RAW; then Todd McFarlane and that gang; then Harvey Kurtzman
, creator of MAD magazine; and ending with Will Eisner. What sort of order this? It doesn’t present a thematic progression, and it certainly is not chronological …. If you figure out what it is, leave a comment or send me an e-mail, please, because I don’t get it.

Of course, the one thing we really want from a reference guide, even if isn’t “an encyclopedia,” is accuracy. When mentioning Casterman Publishing’s marvelous À Suivre magazine, Pilcher and Brooks state it ran for 25 years, from 1978 to 1987. (À Suivre folded in 1997.)

Now, this could be the only error — surely a typo — in the entire book. But how do we know?


  1. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the nice words! Unfortunately there are a few more typos and errors that rather embarrassingly slipped through the net and both Brad and I would love to do a long overdue updated version correcting all the errors and bringing the whole thing bang up to date as it is 5 years old now! A LOT of new material and titles have appeared since, and interestingly, world comics general knowledge has become much broader than when the book was first written back in 2004.



  2. You are welcome. It’s a cool guide. And an updated version is a great idea. -- Michael